MI-6 agent 007 James Bond is easily one of the most iconic characters in all of Hollywood, and he’s mostly remained at the top of his game and His Majesty’s Secret Service through 27 movies, played by 12 different actors, soon to be 13. Along with the leading men who have played Bond come the scheming villains, beautiful women, Ms, Qs, watercraft, aircraft, spacecraft, gadgets, and wristwatches. Yes, watches. Some of them have housed gadgets while others have simply been functional style statements of the man himself.
Many of the specific watch models worn by Bond are pieces to covet because most of them simply aren’t made anymore, aside from James Bond Omega watches. While most average men can’t afford to plunk down serious money for a Rolex Submariner, Ref. 6538, similar to the one Sean Connery wore in the 1963 movie From Russia With Love, that doesn’t mean there aren’t attainable James Bond watches you can actually own with the kind of funds that won’t require you to sell an organ.
What Kind of Watch Does James Bond Use?
It’s pretty clear from Ian Fleming’s second book, Live and Let Die (1954) that Bond wears a Rolex, namely an Explorer. It’s the same watch Fleming wore himself. That was the book, but in all of Sean Connery’s Bond films, he wore a Rolex Submariner, more specifically ref. 6538. Fleming was a Royal Navy man himself, so in the ’50s when Rolex was the proper tough sporting watch that was getting traction in the market, the 007 and Rolex pairing made sense. Bond would changes his watch to Gruen and Breitling, back to Rolex and then onto pieces like Seiko digital quartz watches, reflecting the times in which the movies were made. Then Omega moved Bond’s timepiece into the modern age, and it hasn’t lost its footing yet. In most cases, Bond’s watches have been more about adroitly toeing the line between refined and resilient. In other cases, they were almost nerdy.
In terms of what kind of watch Bond should wear, the construction and functionality are just as important as the brand. The notion of a sporty, rugged, sophisticated, and highly functional watch for 007 is key, especially since Bond is a field agent and not a desk jockey. His watch must be function over fashion without sacrificing too much of the latter. Bond has to go from a high-stakes poker game to fighting villains without any time for wardrobe transitions, so his watch has to pull double duty and come out looking unscathed. Rolex was used not because of product placement but largely because it’s what Fleming had his hero wear in the books, and it’s what he wore, as well. Bond Filmmaker Albert R. Broccoli also favored Rolex, so the pairing made sense.
After the Seiko quartz era, Bond briefly returned to Rolex in the ’90s, but he eventually moved on to Omega as his watch of choice, and he hasn’t looked back. The relationship has proven so successful that Omega has made a number of Bond edition watches, including its latest 50th Anniversary Seamaster 300M. While not all of the watches Bond wore are still made today, there are models that mere mortals can purchase without having to report to Q Branch.
James Bond Watches You Can Buy
Rolex Submariner Ref. 6538 (Closest Match: Rolex Submariner M124060-0001)
Movies: Dr. No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965)
Sean Connery’s 007 wears the now iconic Rolex Submariner Ref. 6538 in the first four Bond films. In Dr. No, it’s on a leather strap, and then it gets the slap-dash choice of an ill-fitting Nato strap in From Russia With Love. Who cares, though, because it cemented the Subie as the iconic Bond watch, no matter how many Omegas were used afterward. Just like Connery’s Bond, there will never be another replacement for Bond’s Rolex. A vintage Ref. 6538 will set you back about 20 grand, but you can find a modern Submariner if you have a good relationship with an authorized dealer, or find one in the aftermarket.
Breitling Top Time Ref. 2002 (Closest Match: Breitling Top Time A23310121G1X1)
Movie: Thunderball (1965)
Connery’s Bond still wears the Submariner in Thunderball, but he also gets a new toy from Q Branch in the form of a highly modified Breitling Top Time Chronograph with a large stainless steel cushion case. Embedded within is a Geiger counter, and 007 uses the watch to locate stolen atomic weapons with it, naturally. While the case you see in the film looks nothing like the stock Top Time, the classic Breitling chronograph look is still alive in the modern Top Time. The current Top Time revives the famous Zorro dial from the ’60s and gets timekeeping duties from a COSC-certified Breitling Caliber 23 chronograph movement.
Rolex GMT Master Ref. 6542 (Closest Match: Rolex GMT-Master II Ref 126710)
Movie: Casino Royale (1967)
David Niven plays Sir James Bond in this spy parody. Although it’s not an official James Bond movie, it is loosely based on the Fleming novel by the same name. More comedy than action, the film shows Niven wearing a Rolex GMT Master. The watch makes sense for Bond’s globetrotter status, and it’s perhaps the only aspect of the movie that wasn’t farcical. The current GMT Master II is one of the brand’s boldest timepieces with its bi-color, deeply engraved and notched ceramic bezel, cyclops date window, and ornate jubilee bracelet. Two-timezone tracking makes it perfect for travelers, and the micro-adjustable Oysterlock Easylink clasp allows for on-the-go expansion when you experience that midday wrist swell.
Hamilton Pulsar P2 2900 LED (Closest Match: Hamilton PSR Digital Quartz H52414130)
Movie: Live and Let Die (1973)
This was perhaps the most radical Bond watch ever because it’s pretty much the antithesis of the Rolex Submariner. It’s significant because The Pulsar P2 was the world’s first true mass-produced digital watch, and it was considered technologically advanced for its time. The time-only LED display used so much power that it required pushing the button to temporarily display the time of day. But that didn’t bother Roger Moore’s 007, who breaks it out in the opening scene of the film. The chunky TV-style case is all kinds of ’70s manly, and the dot-matrix-style numerals grab your attention like a time-bomb readout. It cost a couple grand back then, but Hamilton’s reissue costs less than half that and uses an always-on LCD screen.
Seiko 7549-7009 “Golden Tuna” (Closest Match: Seiko SNE567)
Movie: For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Roger Moore wears this big beast of a dive watch on the outside of his yellow diving suit, so it’s pretty prominent. There are no gadgets within, nor does the audience get much of a close view of it. Regardless, the Seiko Tuna is a legend, and the Golden Tuna is even more so because of the movie. But don’t be discouraged that this particular version is no longer made because the Tuna lives on in various formats. The all-black SNE567 has a big 46.7mm outer case, solar quartz movement with 10 months of power reserve, and a dive-ready black rubber strap.
Seiko G757 Sports 100 (Closest Match: Timex Q LCA Reissue Digital TW2U72400ZV)
Movie: Octopussy (1983)
The then very contemporary Seiko G757 Sports 100 watch gets prominently featured in numerous scenes, and it’s clearly a gadget watch. Moore’s 007 uses the G757 Sports 100 to track down the missing Fabergé egg, a plot device a modern Bond would never get caught with. Regardless, the watch is cemented in cinematic history with its big tapered square horseshoe 37x41mm case and the simulated analog dial in the upper right corner. You can still find some in the aftermarket for way more than its original retail price, but they’re few and far between. Seiko doesn’t even make a standalone digital watch anymore, but Timex makes one that’s pretty close. The square-cased Timex Q LCA measures 32.5mm wide and gets capped off with mineral crystal for toughness. It sports a simulated analog dial just like Bond’s G757, and its single-bulb backlight is the right kind of retro.
TAG Heuer Professional Night-Dive (Closest Match: TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 WBP201D.FT6197)
Movie: The Living Daylights (1987)
The timing of Roger Moore’s replacement, Timothy Dalton, had nothing to do with Bond’s watch choice, but the Seiko era was over for 007. Timothy Dalton was more serious, a bit more hard-edged, and he required something more robust like a TAG Heuer diver. Although you can’t see much of the quartz diver, it shows up in the opening fight scene when Dalton is on top of a Land Rover that’s packed with dynamite. You can see the fully luminescent dial of the TAG on Bond’s wrist as he tries to gain control of the vehicle. Try pulling this off with a Seiko digital. You see what we mean. The Professional Night-Dive isn’t made anymore, but its modern interpretation, a black Aquaracer is even better. It gets tougher DLC (diamond-like carbon) in place of the Night-Dive’s black PVD coating, as well as a fully lumed dial and a Swiss automatic movement.
Omega Seamaster Professional 300M
Movies: Goldeneye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999), Die
Another Day (2002), Casino Royale (2006)
The Omega Seamaster 300M ushered in the new Bond watch brand and carried on in no less than five Bond films. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t product placement that put the 300M on the 007 horological map, but it was the new actor and the new costume design that brought Omega in. The 300M is more of a British Royal Navy man’s watch than a Rolex, pointing to Bond’s military background. Well, it stuck and so did the Omega brand. The original quartz version isn’t made anymore, and the 300M in mechanical automatic guise carried the mantle. The venerable 300M is a modern horological icon, and it’s is still made today in various formats and even with a smooth COSC-certified Co-Axial escapement movement. The James Bond blue-wave version is a classic. Even when Bond changed hands from Brosnan to Craig for Casino Royale, the Omega 300M remained on 007’s wrist.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean
Movies: Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012)
Craig’s Bond wears the Planet Ocean in three different references across three films. In Casino Royale, Bond is seen with the substantial 45.5mm Seamaster Professional Planet Ocean chronometer (Ref. 2900.50.91) mated with a tough, utilitarian black rubber dive strap as he stealthily boards LeChiffre’s yacht. 007 downsized to a 42.2mm version of the Planet Ocean for the next movie, Quantum of Solace but this time with a more refined and matching stainless steel bracelet. For Craig’s third 007 movie, Skyfall, Bond changes up to a new Planet Ocean with an upgraded Co-Axial Master Chronometer 42mm that’s resistant to magnetic fields.
Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Master Co-Axial
Movies: Skyfall (2012), Spectre (2015)
Bond changes things up from the Planet Ocean to the beautiful Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M for dressier duties when meeting with M. The far more understated Aqua Terra with the blue dial works wonderfully with a suit, and although it doesn’t see very much action or screen time in the film, the Aqua Terra is still a Co-Axial Master Chronometer and worthy of 007 wrist time. The watch measures in at 41.55 and comes with a sun-brushed and lacquered blue dial with a slick teak pattern and a date window at 3 o’clock. Its modern update is the Ref. 126.96.36.199.03.004, which downsizes the diameter by half a millimeter and moves the date window from the 3 to the 6. It also upgrades the movement to a Master Co-Axial Calibre 8900 and retains anti-magnetic properties, the opposite of Craig.
Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Co-Axial Master Chronometer 42mm 007 Edition
Movie: No Time To Die (2022)
In Craig’s final Bond film, the watch is as epic as the movie, itself. Not only is it Bond’s first titanium watch, but it’s also the product of Craig’s design influence, namely the vintage Super-LumiNova lume and the tropical brown dial and bezel insert. There’s even a nod to British armed forces with a broad arrow icon at the 6 o’clock position. The titanium mesh bracelet matches the resilient and lightweight case perfectly. Bond is seen wearing it throughout the film, and it shows what a truly versatile and capable timepiece it is. On the caseback are numbers that point to British Navy divers (923 7697), to Bond (007), and the year of the first 007 movie (62). It’s a special piece that could very well be more Bond than any other watch in the movies’ history, and you can buy it from an Omega Dealer.